Daniel Dvorkin writes: When I first started studying bioinformatics almost fifteen years ago (!) what drew me to the field was the promise that we might soon be able to provide effective, personalized treatments for a wide variety of diseases. There have been some successes along the way, like genetic tests for warfarin dosage, but for the most part our gains in understanding of basic biology haven't been matched by clinical advances. Now it looks like that is at long last about to change, and it's about time.
Too many people suffer and die from too many diseases that we more or less understand, but can't effectively treat. I hated it when I worked in hands-on patient care, and I hate it now in the lab. We are, finally, getting there.
Daniel Dvorkin writes: Sadly, Charlie Warzel's analysis hits the nail on the head. It's becoming harder and harder to make your computer (particularly, but not exclusively, when online) behave the way you want it to rather than the way some anonymous MBA thinks it should behave, and this trend is only going to continue. We the geek-people, who made the whole thing possible, are out of the loop. After decades of decentralization, we're slowly moving back toward the classic sci-fi vision of The Computer being a giant centralized machine which users can only access when and how the powers that be want.
Daniel Dvorkin writes: "Slate reports on an anti-SOPA/PIPA petition hosted on whitehouse.gov; among the authors of the petietion are Aneesh Chopra, the US CTO. As usual, the story is a lot less dramatic than the headline ("Obama Administration Comes Out Against SOPA And Protect IP") but it's a hopeful sign."
Daniel Dvorkin writes: The Australian government has confiscated Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's passport, the Times reports. Assange has been given contradictory answers as to why the passport was revoked, but it's obviously an act of revenge for the episode last year in which Wikileaks revealed that the Australian government's list of "child pornography" sites to be blacked out throughout the country contained many sites which had nothing to do with child porn — or, indeed, anything but the suppression of political dissent.
Daniel Dvorkin writes: "In the latest example of intellectual property demands gone wild, Russia wants licensing fees for the production of AK-47's. According to first deputy prime minister Sergei Ivanov, the unlicensed production of Kalashnikovs (which have been around in very nearly their current form for half a century) in ex-Soviet Bloc countries is "intellectual piracy." A giant but declining power starts demanding royalties on commonly used methods and materials that are widely understood, well known, and by any reasonable standard have long been in the public domain — does this sound familiar? IP insanity is everywhere, it seems."
Daniel Dvorkin writes: "University of Southern California physicist Itzhak Bars proposes an extra dimension of time to resolve some fundamental physics problems. According to the article, "the math with four space and two time dimensions reproduces the standard equations describing the basic particles and forces." IANAP, but this sounds to me like it might be an elegant solution to some of the ever-increasing complexity of modern physics."
Chloe, we secular liberals are perfectly aware that Christians, as a group, are not the enemy. Liberalism has never seen Christianity, or any religion, as the enemy. Regrettably, the idea that liberals and Christians are naturally at each other's throats has become such a successful Republican talking point that even liberals, whether secular or religious, have to spend time arguing about it; this has more to do with the success of the Republican propaganda machine than it does with any inherent political divide between believers and nonbelievers. Liberal Christianity has a long and proud history in this country, from the Abolitionist movement on.
The fact of the matter is, there are a large number of Christians, generally self-identified evangelicals, who are the enemy. These are the people who cheerfully disregard their Savior's advice in regards to the poverty, suffering, and intolerance, while telling us quite earnestly that God wants them to get rich at others' expense, spy on their neighbors' bedrooms, teach our children fairy tales in place of science, and fight an apparently endless war in, um, Babylon and the Holy Land. In short, they're theocrats, which makes them the enemies of America. And in case you haven't noticed, these are the people who have been the public face of evangelical Christianity in politics for quite some time.
Fighting against these people does not imply any intolerance of religious belief; it implies a belief in America, no more and no less. Do liberals need to prove themselves to evangelicals? Maybe so. But evangelicals also need to prove themselves to liberals. If Obama can do that, on both sides, more power to him. But there's a long way to go.